The U.S. Government filed suit Monday on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency against the V.I. Water and Power Authority for alleged violations of the U.S. Clean Air Act, seeking injunctive relief and heavy fines.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court on St. Croix, alleges that numerous stack tests found higher than permitted emissions at WAPA’s St. Croix power plant and that the excessive emissions continued after warnings and remedial measures. These excess emissions violate the utility’s operating permit, according to the U.S. government.
The filing cite dates of failed emission tests, the amount of particulate emissions allowed and the amount measured.
The suit seeks injunctions requiring WAPA to perform an array of preventive and remedial actions, from properly operating water injection systems on several units, to having WAPA maintain and make available accurate emissions monitoring results and report noncompliance in quarterly reports.
The U.S. is also seeking civil penalties "of up to $32,500 per day for each violation on or between March 15 2004 and January 11, 2009; and $37,500 for each violation thereafter."
WAPA spokeswoman Cassandra Dunn confirmed Wednesday that the utility had received notice of the lawsuit.
"WAPA has been working diligently with EPA for the past two years to address all of its concerns and to bring the facility into full compliance," Dunn said in an email. "We have made considerable progress, and expect to be able to resolve this matter fully with a negotiated settlement in the near future," she continued.
Dunn said WAPA has made "substantial progress" towards converting to less costly liquified propane and natural gas, which she said should help improve emissions.
"We expect that conversion will not only substantially reduce WAPA’s cost for fuel, and significantly reduce air emissions, but will also eliminate many of the Clean Air Act requirements cited in the complaint that have been problematic in the past," Dunn said.